Luxury vehicles, recovering auto markets boost BMW profit

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German automaker BMW said third-quarter net profit rose 17 percent to 1.81 billion euros ($2.22 billion) as regional auto markets recovered and highly profitable luxury models such as the 8 Series coupe and X7 large sport-utility vehicle helped fatten the bottom line.

The profit figure improved on the 1.55 billion euros recorded in the same quarter a year earlier. Group revenues fell 1.4 percent to 26.28 billion euros.

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The company said it benefitted from regional upturns in demand as well as from strict cost and cash management. Chief financial officer Nicolas Peter said an earlier decision to focus on the upper luxury segment was paying off as more-profitable vehicles occupied a larger share of the company’s sale, citing the X7 made at the company’s plant in Spartanburg, South Carolina.

The company saw a strong performance from its BMW Brilliance Automotive Lt. joint venture in China, which was hit earliest by shutdown related to the coronavirus but which has recovered faster.

Operating margins on sales came in at 9.4 percent, better than the 8.4 percent recorded a year earlier before the pandemic.

The company reduced both research and development spending and capital expenditure on plants and equipment during the quarter, but said spending on future technology remained at a high level, including for future electrified models. The auto industry is facing pressure from long-term change such as regulatory pressure for more zero local emission electric cars to fight pollution and global warming and from a move toward digital services.

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